LaGrange sprints to region title
by By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
They came, they ran, and they took no prisoners.
The LaGrange Grangers dominated the Region 5-AAAA cross-country meet on Wednesday in Douglas County.
A Shaw runner captured the top spot, but the next three runners were Grangers, and LaGrange captured four of the top six places.
LaGrange easily out-distanced second-place finisher Alexander, and Columbus and Carrollton were next.
The top four teams will participate in the state meet that will be held in Carrollton on Nov. 9.
LaGrange finished fourth in the state last year, and it will look to improve on that result this season.
“I’m so proud of them. It’s unbelievable what they’ve been able to accomplish, really over the past two years,” LaGrange coach Brad Wilson said. “We’ve had this group for two solid years, and we knew right at the beginning that if they stayed together and they worked hard, that they could really do some special things. And that’s exactly what they’ve done. They’ve continued to push each other to great and greater heights.”
Shaw’s Hakeem Mustafaa grabbed the top individual prize with a time of 15 minutes, 36 seconds.
He was nine seconds better than LaGrange’s Andrew Coggins, who was second with a time of 15:47.
“Hakeem has a tendency and a history of taking out very fast, and just tries to hang on,” Wilson said. “It usually works for him. He wins a lot more races than he loses. Our guys go out and run their race. They take it out a bit more conservative and try to chase him down. Sometimes we catch him, sometimes we don’t.”
It was another fantastic result for Coggins, who earlier this season set the school record and has won multiple events.
Next for LaGrange was sophomore Sam Bowie (16:07) who was third overall, and Garrett Cashwell (16:17) was fourth.
Bo Bridges of Columbus was fifth, and LaGrange’s Jonathan Pelham (16:37) was sixth.
“Having four guys make first-team all region this year was really exciting,” Wilson said. “It’s a big step for us. They’re fired up, and they’re ready for 10 more days when we can go take another shot at state.”
Each team had seven runners, and the top five results counted toward the team total.
LaGrange’s fifth runner was Ben Anderson (17:49), who was 21st.
Gabe White (18:19) was 28th, and Will Wooten (19:11) was 36th.
While the top four runners have remained consistent throughout the season, the number five runner has changed a lot.
“Every week has been different,” Wilson said. “Gabe, early in the season was our fifth guy. And then Will stepped up for a couple of reasons. And now at region, Ben stepped up when it mattered. We knew we had four guys that we could always count on. We knew we needed a fifth guy. We didn’t find one, we found three. That’s a great problem to have. Each race, we know one of the three can step up and be that fifth guy.”
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